An interview with Minnie Lahongrais...
Divergent Lives by Minnie Lahongrais is a must read on my list of good reads of 2013. I couldn't put the book down and was left speechless at the end - it's an awesome story.
An interview with Minnie Lahongrais...
An interview with Minnie Lahongrais...
I have always been an avid reader. I remember reading “See Spot Run” in the first grade and loving the feel of a book in my hands. Reading is a portal for me. Walking through its doors is an invitation to visit other worlds.
I envied authors who could create inviting, stimulating worlds to explore. I wanted to do that as well. But life got in the way and I didn’t think about writing again until years after my father died.
As a child, my bedtime was eight o’clock, seven days a week. I used to crawl under the covers to read long after I was supposed to be asleep. My Dad knew I loved to read and once gave me a penlight so I could keep reading my favorite books.
My father passed away in September of 2005 after a severe stroke three months earlier, and my heart shattered. I became obsessed with death. A friend suggested I write down my feelings but I was concerned that someone would come across my writings after my death and judge me. So I decided to record what I was thinking, what I was feeling and what I wanted my reality to be -- as fiction but I honestly didn’t know where to start.
On the train months later, I settled in for the ride to work when I glanced over at a book a woman sitting next to me was reading. Her book was opened to a new chapter and that chapter’s title was “When Dreams Die.” My eyes welled up with tears as I felt, at the time, that all my dreams had died with my father.
As I arrived at my stop, those three words haunted me. Had fate somehow led me to where I was supposed to be? I asked myself the question: “What if dreams could be resurrected?” By the time I arrived at my office, three blocks away and still broken, I had the idea for my urban fantasy, “Resurrection of Dead Dreams.”
That happened in May of 2010 and my writing career was born.
My years as a teenager – two incidents in particular – and part of a conversation I heard as a child.
The working title for this story was “Standing on the Precipice.” The main characters of this story were always going to include Adina and Benny. Benny was always going to jail and Adina was always going to die. My plan for this story was to show how conflicting moral ideals could lead a woman down a dangerous path. I planned for it to be a “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” kind of story.
When starting a new story, I tend to write several chapters at a time then sleep on them and review what I’ve written with a fresh eye a day or two later. In this case, I had written the first and last chapters then put my WIP away. Two mornings later, I had a flash back to the conversation I overheard as a little girl when my mother said:
I knew who she was talking about and I got to thinking about the consequences of such an event. I wondered what would have happened if that child had lived and was sold to another couple unbeknownst to the biological parents. What if one of the twins was deformed?
I fixated on the possibilities and “Divergent Lives” was born.
I have an affinity for each and every single one of my characters because I WAS each of them while in the midst of writing their scenes. I understood them, their motives, their thought processes. Therefore, all my characters were my favorite in their space and time. If I had to single one out, I couldn’t.
For the purposes of this interview, I would have to say that two characters are my favorites: Adina and RJ. I love them because, as far as I’m concerned, they represent the yin and yang of this fictional tale. Yes, they are sociopaths but like all humans, they are flawed. Haven’t you ever wanted to take physical control over a situation when you felt you had none? Haven’t you ever wanted to kill someone for some slight -- real or imagined?
I have. We live in a “PC” world. Strip away all the political correctness and what do you have left for relatively sane people to deal with? We would be left with people like RJ and Adina. These two are people with very, very fuzzy boundaries.
The character who was my least favorite was RJ’s adoptive father, the Pastor Ezekiel James Preston for his hypocrisy. This is a man who stood in the pulpit of his church yet continually committed atrocities in his home. Ironically, he was also fun to write.
What can I tell you? I’m twisted!
Ok, so I’m a nerd, right?
I get very, very excited when I imagine a scene and I write it the way I see it. Once I have it down, I research the details to see if what I’ve written is feasible. I plunge myself into researching the different possibilities and scenarios. When I hit upon something that is either identical to my vision or very close to it, I begin emailing, making phone calls and planning expert interviews. The research that I do and incorporating what I’ve learned into a story was and will always be my favorite part about writing “Divergent Lives.” Or any project, for that matter.
I get a buzz when I learn something new, but I get really high when my imagined scenarios are realistic and possible.
Ergo, writing makes me high.
I’d have to say that there were two challenges: time (logistical) and psychological.
I discovered late in life that I had a passion for writing. Throughout my life, many people told me that I should write a book.
I heard encouragement like:
“You have lots of words. You should share them.”
“Write a book.”
“You should write your life story.”
I would reply in jest: “I don’t want to embarrass my mother.”
Like many indie authors, I have a very demanding day job. I just never thought I would have the time to finish a book. However, I’ve learned to make time for writing: every day, no excuses. That’s also my best advice to other authors.
Psychologically, writing is cathartic for me. It’s cheaper than therapy. Everything that I write has a kernel of truth in it; a kernel that I will never fully disclose except to those closest to me; those who would recognize that kernel.
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a thing! This story has turned out even better than I imagined it could be. I’ve heard comments from people about what they considered to be too much detail in some areas, and others who wanted more detail in other parts of the story. The bottom line is that you can’t please everybody. I wrote the story that spoke to me and I’m happy with it.
I’ve gone back to the first piece I started writing, an urban fantasy titled “Resurrection of Dead Dreams.” I’m deep into the first book, “The Radocians.”
I also have ideas for a collection of short stories. I’ve started two of those stories and I have ideas for two others. Watch for them!
I’ll read anything I can get my hands on! However, lately, I’ve been reading more and more pieces written by other indie authors. Kallypso Masters, Robbi Sommers Bryant, Katie Salidas, Carmen DeSousa, are just some of the more prolific ones. Others on my list are Ellis Shuman, James Darcy, Edward Cozza and Anne Lamott. Anne’s on this list even though she’s not Indie.
I just love to read and that’s why my list is constantly growing!
That said, I just binge-read a bunch of BDSM romance novels. Currently, I’m reading a collection of true crime stories by R.J. Parker and a true account of one man’s experience during holiday in Spain by Dave Perlmutter.
I recently discovered that my muse comes alive for me when I have classical (baroque and chamber) music playing in the background when I’m writing. In particular, Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” does something to me. It was my ringtone for years. Whenever I hear the first few bars of that piece, my soul stirs and I have to stop what I’m doing and allow myself to drift away with its melancholy.
There’s a scene in “Resurrection of Dead Dreams” where the main character’s (Mica’s) ancestry is being revealed to her by Anatoly, her love interest. This is a bittersweet scene with lots of fantastical drama and the basis for the second book in the trilogy. Appropriately, I had Pandora tuned in to the classical station. Mozart played while I wrote that scene, followed by a piece by Bach. Thinking about it makes me want to go and get to it!
Oh! And finally, my favorite things in the world are pink diamonds!!!
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Cloey: Thank you for sharing with us today and interviewing with me. I love Fur Elise, it's one of my favorite songs that I play on my Smule app. Divergent Lives is a very good read and I am looking forward to reading your next novel.
Psych Thriller Adds Deviant Twists to Sociopath Theme
RJ and Adina enter the world as fraternal twins, one raised by old-world, controlling immigrants in El Barrio, the other sold into a religious home filled with lies and scorn. Both are sociopaths.
Turns out, RJ’s got a secret that enrages him with the flip of a switch. Adina uses her sexual power to dominate every man in her life. They are on a mysterious trajectory to cross paths in New York City, where the end of their lives culminates in an apex of horror and carnage.
Worldwide purchase links: Germany/Deutschland
About the author:
Native New Yorker, Minnie Lahongrais unwittingly kick-started her second career when she began writing an urban fantasy tale intended to help her cope with the death of her father. November of that year, she set that story aside to immerse herself in the annual madness of NaNoWriMo, meeting the challenge head on. Her first novel, “Sinner’s Ride” was published Spring of 2011. That summer, she found herself obsessed with the story idea for “Divergent Lives.”
Next on her agenda is the urban fantasy she began at the outset of her journey. She now plans to write that story as a trilogy.
Ms. Lahongrais currently lives in New York City. She finds time to write every day and spends her free time with her family.
Contact the author: